The vBulletin system is one of the most popular for Internet forum installations, and comes ready to support some of the most used languages on the web. The current version has also been praised for the better SEO options that it provides administrators with. Version 4.1.8 was released in October 2011. vBulletin’s fourth release is also notable for the blog functions that it featured. In the following version (v.5) vBulletin Connect was introduced. vBulletin 5 Connect was released as a stable ‘gold’ product on 21 February 2013.
Read more on the page “About vBulletin“.

There has been some legal issues in the past which now appears to be history:
In 2010, Internet Brands filed a second lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California through its wholly owned subsidiary vBulletin Solutions, Inc. against XenForo Ltd., and its founders Kier, Mike and Ashley. The lawsuit alleges “widespread infringement and unlawful exploitation” of vBulletin’s source code and “equally damaging misappropriation of trade secrets” developed and owned by vBulletin with “investments of millions of dollars over the last ten years.” The lawsuit further alleges that the developers of XenForo Ltd. “took with them virtually every type of document a competitor would need to enter the market and unlawfully create a competing bulletin board software program.” In February 2013, it was announced by the lawyers of XenForo, that a victory had been secured against Internet Brands after a confidential settlement had been reached, dismissing all claims against them.

Why skins?

While many of the web 2.0 softwares used to power today’s websites uses cutting edge design, many forum software provider’s default templates look quite dated. This is unfortunate, not least since on websites with active forums, this part of the website is often the most visited. The great majority of forum sites uses default skins, but here are some inspring examples where the webmasters have spent some extra hours to customize the look to integrate with their websites:

adobe-forumAdobe Forums – This example shows the sub-forum for discussions about Photoshop on Windows. Clean and effective design.

Apple Support Forums – The masters of design, Apple, are obviously not using a defalut template for their support forum. This fresh style is gimmicked by many other forums, for example the Radio Controlled Models Forum which is technology focused site hosting discussions about rc hobby and similar topics. Very clean indeed:

apple-support-forum

LFG Comic – A Invision Board powered forum which is another good example of when a custom not much more than a background image and a matching color theme makes a huge difference compared to the default forum template.

Piano Forum – A Simple Machines powered forum based website about classical piano music and how to play the piano. An inverted theme (white text on dark background) like this gives lower readability for some people but can be effective for design purposes. Here the color theme matches the rest of the site and not least, the colors of a concert grand piano.

Electronic Arts – EA uses custom design on each of the sub forums. Mostly done by using separate background graphics, this is a pretty simple but very effective solution. Example from the “The Secret World” category:
http://forums.thesecretworld.com/

secretworld

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